Migrants abandoned at Victoria station due to ‘massive’ Home Office error, charity worker claims

A Home Office worker admitted a “massive error” had been made after asylum seekers were left at a central London station without accommodation after being taken out of the processing centre at Manston, a charity volunteer has said.

A group of 11 men were driven to the capital from Kent on Tuesday as part of a larger group of around 40.

Danial Abbas, from the Under One Sky homelessness charity, said the men were left “highly distressed, disorientated, lost” with “nowhere to go”.

Mr Abbas told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “[They were] simply just turning to anyone and everyone on the street to help.

“We were almost glad that we were there at the right place at the right time to provide them with the sort of care and love and compassion that we did.”

Asked if he had spoken to anyone at the Home Office about the situation, he said: “I personally was in touch with a gentleman from the Home Office that whole evening. Very quickly a solution was found.

“He immediately, you know, put his hands up on behalf of the Home Office and said ‘this has been a massive error, let’s get this sorted ASAP’.”

Mr Abbas said the group was taken to a hotel in Norwich.

But a Home Office source told The Telegraph that Mr Abbas’s account was “wrong”. 

They said: “The individuals were transported to Victoria coach station, London, because they said they had accommodation in that location which would not leave them destitute. 

“They told us they had accommodation with friends of family available to them. Any suggestion otherwise is wrong.

“The Home Office has a legal obligation to provide support to asylum seekers who would otherwise be destitute whilst their application is being considered.

“The individuals were in London for a matter of hours before they were transported to accommodation.

“The Home Office worked at pace to find accommodation for the individuals when we were notified that 11 of them did not in fact have a place to stay.”

The Home Office are able to move people from Manston when they can be accommodated by friends and family, and therefore are not destitute.

Transport is then provided to those people leaving Manston, as was the case in this scenario.

One of the 11, who did not give his real name, told the BBC he had spent 21 days at Manston, sleeping on a mattress in a along with 150 others.

He believed he was staying in a hotel in London when he boarded the coach, but only realised he had nowhere to sleep when he arrived in the capital.

“When we got to Victoria station the bus driver told us to get off the bus,” he told the BBC. 

“I asked the bus driver to please call the immigration officer, but he said that I must get off the bus and call family. I said to him maybe there was misunderstanding because I don’t have family in here.

“Other guys saying same. We were about 11 who didn’t have anywhere to go. The bus driver just said we had to get off the bus. He said he just had to take us to Victoria and we should use phones to call family.

“At Victoria station I didn’t know what to do. Other guys went to their families but where should I go?”

A British Transport Police spokesman said staff responded to reports of a group of asylum seekers looking for assistance at Victoria station at 10.33pm on Tuesday.

“Officers engaged and liaised with charity partners, rail staff and government colleagues to help them find accommodation for the evening,” he said.


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